Tuesday, December 4, 2007

return to the chateau

this is for you, august! these images are all from last week, which was ridiculously fruitful, despite my insecurites otherwise. i didn't return to the chateau this week because i've been sick, and it just doesn't feel right to expose such a fragile person to my cold.
this visit marked the first time i felt self conscious photographing lynn, on her behalf. sure, it's been awkward, all the staff wondering who i am and why i'm always lurking with a "professional" camera. it's kept me from shooting in from outside the building through the window, but other than that, i haven't really cared what anyone thought. oh yeah, and i also refrained from documenting the routine and endless injections, monitoring, strange windpipe contraption clearing--all very interesting--and easy. i've refrained.
but this week i felt different. when i arrived, lynn was in rough shape. it had been a terrible week. first a 2am trip to the hospital because of a panic episode and sudden plunge in blood pressure, then two nights later she woke up dreaming she had the luxury of getting herself to the restroom--ended up laid out on the linoleum floor, monitor machine pulled away from the wall, breathing tubes stretched taut. when i entered the room after these harrowing debacles, lynn was exhausted, newly overmedicated, and nauseated. she wanted to continue sleeping. when i tried to photograph her lying so vulnerable, teeth out, no discussion prior to shooting (usually i visit with her for at least a half hour before brandishing my camera), looking near death, i cringed each time i tried to release the button. it was unclear whether she was aware of my precense, but even through her silky black eye mask, she seemed to be delirously tracking my movements. instead i photographed the wheelchair by the window. then took a breather at the local diner to gather my gumption. perhaps part of it was the difficulty in seeing her rapidly deteriorating condition. whatever the reason, i was shaken. surprisingly though, after an hour or so, lynn sprang back into her usual self--demanding updates, offering tea, smiling. i spent the whole day there, joined by her son. i did not work to exclude him from the images as i had before, as he is part of her story too.
i tried to vary my angles. attached my wide angle and flash for full room shots, however gremlins possessed my flash, rendering it unusable (naturally it performed perfectly the following day). but in class, my fellow students were all drawn to this 'bad flash' photo above, citing some kind of spiritual component.
there are obvious themes emerging--the ever-present coiling of life sustaining tubes, the light slashing through the darkness from window blinds leaving diagonal stripes aplenty, the frailty and communication in her hands, the branding of the 'kindred' name into identification bands, her food, her room, even her teeth.
since i didn't have any new images to present, and for the past two weeks i'd shown my work via the computer, i did a massive two-day printing session and brought in nearly 40 prints for a comprehensive edit. understand that edit is not the fondest word in my vocabulary! and understand that i'd already edit down from hundreds of images to arrive at these forty.
i know, fundamentally that less is more. i just don't know that in my heart. my heart feels like more is more. this, of course, presented a challenge to my skillfully adept instructor as he tried to 'slash and burn' the series. somehow we worked it down to nineteen images, with a promise to shoot once more, cut four of these out and add three new. pity to my teacher, who looked guiltily at me as he made the edits, often asking, "are you okay? you look as though you're on the verge of tears?" a poker face i do not possess.
yes, i suppose i'm a bit too emersed in this project right now. i little too close.
also, completely unsure of how i will present the final series. only two weeks left of class! unreal how the time has flown.

i think i'll upload all images to flickr as a set and poll my myriad of readers. soon. just really busy now!


August Anderson said...

For me? Little down with the flu/cold for the second time in as many months, me? Is it because you know I check your blog three times a day for updates? Hmmm?
Let me tell ya the ones I'm gagga for:
The first image is awesome and will be even more awesome when printed on full size, as in as laege as you printer can print.
The third image is a yes, as are the fourth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth images.
And your Fatal Step series was so very good. Very concise.
Can't wait to see the rest!!!

kitty8joe said...

august! i'm so sorry that you're sick! i'm not feeling great either. must be the change in the weather. thank you so much for all of your feedback and enthusiasm! hope to see you soon. next wednesday after pod? i'm assembling teach, amos and you!
hey, surprised you weren't into the teeth shot! kjs

Naomi Campbell said...

kitty, you are capturing life in a nursing facility, so "beautifully" if I can say that. I'm working in one every day and as you well know it's not a beautiful place to be, but somehow you lend some dignity to it. Keep up the good work. As hard as it is, this must be your therapy. Love, Gnome.

Amy said...

Kitty, fabulous work here. SC

August Anderson said...

Didn't i include the teeth shot as a fave? I do love it! I hope to be better by next week, and if so would love to join the group. If you haven't already, look into watching the movie Fur with Nicole Kidman. It is so good!!!

kim said...

Amazing photos...Of course you are "too close" to Lynn and all this. Seeing Parker in the photos was even more intense for me--to think about having a loved one living where she is living, slowing dying and trying to be there. TEARS.

Randomly giving my two cents. Very mixed about the movie Fur. Very cool idea and the look was intriguing. But the casting left little to be desired (not Nicole, she was great) but the what's his name??? Knowing that that was him the whole time really took away from the movie!

Xavier said...

some really powerful and poignant shots, kitty. The warmth on Parker's face in the 3rd photo is so honest and so beautiful. All those strong people in one room...

August Anderson said...

Hi Kim,
OK. You got me there. I absolutely agree that Robert Downey Jr. was very distracting. But the art house/european quality of the film was brilliant. The imaginings of Diane Arbus' genius was really interesting to watch. And Nicole was wonderful.